MacJannet student citizenship prize-winners awarded

The sixth global MacJannet prizes for exceptional student community engagement initiatives were awarded last Tuesday at the international Talloires Network Leaders Conference held near Cape Town. The three prizes went to students in Canada, India and South Africa.

The prize from the MacJannet Foundation, in partnership with the global Talloires Network of engaged universities, recognises university-based student projects around the world that demonstrate active citizenship and student leadership at the local level on an issue of global importance.

The prize money is used to further the goals and strengthen the impact of the programmes. The winners were drawn from member institutions of the Talloires Network.

The winners

The Rec and Read Mentorship programme at the University Manitoba in Canada received the first prize of US$7,500. A national research grant in 2001 for Dr Joannie Halas in the faculty of kinesiology and recreation management, to investigate the cultural relevance and quality of physical education for aboriginal youth in Manitoba, laid the foundation for the engagement.

Research begun in 2001 resulted in the formation in 2005 of the Rec and Read Mentorship programme of community-based physical activity for youth in Manitoba.

There is now a weekly programme of after-school physical activity, nutrition and education for school students in both urban and aboriginal communities, delivered by University of Manitoba students and community members.

The Legal Services Clinic at the National Law School of India University won the second prize of US$5,000. The clinic began as an unofficial student initiative aided by senior faculty members and was officially recognised by the university in 1997.

Convenor Basavanagouda Patil, student leader of the clinic, told University World News that students work with underprivileged members of society to deliver justice, applying what they learn in class.

Included in its work, the clinic carries out legal awareness campaigns, pro bono representation, public litigation for the urban poor and work aimed at improving the legal aid policy of the state.

The Wits Initiative for Rural Health Education – WIRHE – at the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa got the third prize of US$2,500.

The organisation started in 2003 to recruit disadvantaged students from rural areas into health science higher education. The programme started with a pilot of nine students and in 11 years has grown to include 50 students with a 90% pass rate.

Ntsiki Mapukata-Sondzaba, coordinator of WIRHE, said students were now working with community care centres and district hospitals to identify areas of expertise needed.

Honourable mentions

There were two honourable mentions for the citizenship prize.

The Centro de Desarrollo Comunal at Universidad Señor de Sipán in Peru, established in 2009, was honoured for contributing towards the development of the Lambayeque region through training, service learning and community empowerment.

Pathways to Higher Education at Ateneo de Manila University in the Philippines was honoured for its work in identifying and nurturing the next generation of leaders through the provision of academic and formative training to talented youths so that they can access reputable universities.

The Philippines has limited access to higher education for public school students, who often struggle with academic competence and lack of confidence.

Nomination, which closes on 23 January 2015, has already started for the next citizenship prize. Talloires Network member universities may each enter two programmes.